Two US astronauts and one cosmonaut from Russia landed from the International Space Station (ISS) at Almaty, Kazakhstan only to hear instructions to wear a mask and keep distance instead of welcome hugs.
Andrew Morgan, Jessica Meir from the NASA who were on the ISS from July 2019 and Oleg Skripochka, Russian cosmonaut joined them in September 2019 when there was no clue about coronavirus. When the trio landed on Earth they were welcomed with digital messages when they touched the land at 0516 GMT.
The live footage of the trio landing parachuting down in their Soyuz MS-15 capsule was not shown by NASA and Roscosmos due to technical limitations associated with the epidemiological situation. NASA released a video on its Twitter platform with the message: "Home safe and sound. Today's landing wraps up a 205-day mission for both @Astro_Jessica and Oleg Skripochka and a 272-day mission for @AstroDrewMorgan. Welcome home! Watch live as the space travelers are helped out of their vehicle."
Travel restrictions and flying back home
Due to coronavirus pandemic, there are travel restrictions and all flights cancelled, the trip cannot fly back from Kazakhstan's Karaganda airport as scheduled. However, special arrangements have been made and the Russian cosmonaut Skripochka will fly from the Baikonur cosmodrome and Morgan, Meir will be taken home on a plane from Kyzylorda. But they will have to drive for several hours to reach Kyzylorda.
NASA SpaceX flight to end Russia's monopoly?
According to NASA, Elon Musk company's SpaceX flight taking NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS, expected to launch as early as the second half of May will end Russia's monopoly on manned missions to the ISS from its Baikonur launchpad. They will take off from Kennedy Space Centre and spend two to three months aboard the orbital lab.
The International Space Station is a mission running with cooperation between Russia and the West has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998. "Before our Apollo astronauts launched to the Moon, they had to walk out of these doors at @NASAKennedy. And when we launch @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on the @SpaceX Demo-2 mission, these doors will be used again. Prepare to #LaunchAmerica on May 27," states a tweet by NASA read.